Monday, June 1, 2020

A painful process

I have been a witness to change first hand.
The type of change that is enduring and lasts a lifetime.
It's not easy and it hurts along the way, but it is possible and most certainly
necessary when you're dealing with life or death circumstances.
When I got clean and sober I was told I needed to change one thing......everything.
I thought they were being funny, but it turns out they were not.
Changing everything means assuming the possibility that everything you have believed
in up until this very moment is a lie, it is not true. Because everything you believed in before
this moment has lead you to this moment, and this moment is in dire need of change.

It came down to asking myself this kind of questioning:

Is the sky blue? or is "blue" just the name another man gave for that color and we all agreed
to call that shade of color "blue"....this is the truth. In fact, most people do not see the same color,
but we have all been "taught" that this is the color we shall call this shade so we can communicate with each other.
That means that everything I know was decided by another man long ago and has been readily accepted as the only way and is taught to every boy and girl from thence forward.
It's called "conditioning".
If this was true of one color, it must be true of everything I have ever known.
Applying this logic to God, Love, Wealth, Freedom, Marriage, Parenthood, Racism, Sexism,
drugs, alcohol....would mean that in order for one thing to begin to change, I would need to be willing to change everything.
Sounds daunting and overwhelming, but the next thing they told me was this only had to happen
one day at a time, one hour at a time, one moment at a time.
Rome was not built in one day. All that was necessary for change was the willingness to do so,
that in itself was change. I didn't need to create new words for the color spectrum, the ones in place were fine and thats a worthless cause. But I absolutely could not put alcohol or drugs into my body again and I had to change people, places and things that were related to my drinking and using immediately.
I needed to try and change my mind. When my mind thought of something, I had a reaction.
It was the same reaction for 33 years of life. I had never developed an alternate reaction.
The idea was the next time I thought about using drugs or drinking alcohol, instead of reacting and immediately doing so, I should stop and say the serenity prayer. If I said the prayer long enough and enough times in a row the thought to use or drink would most likely go away....for the time being.
The thought to use or drink would come back again and again and each time I would need to try this new practice over and over and over and over. It would be wonderful to think that God was creating a miracle to end my using and drinking by prayer.....but in actuality, I was changing my mind.
I was creating a new behavior. Eventually after months of putting this new practice to work, the desire to use or drink began to slow down and eventually it was removed from my mind.
I had no idea this was ever possible.
I was of the belief that what entered my mind was out of my control and I was also not responsible
for my reaction. I always thought I was broken, doomed.
But with this new powerful tool, I could most certainly conquer anything that came into my mind
that I wanted rid of, and so it began.

Not all things changed so easily, some continue to linger on after 16 plus years of sobriety.
What I have found over the years is that some of the behavior I wanted to change was so deep
rooted to a thought process I was not able to detect. I have character defects and flaws that are
connected almost to birth. I have childhood traumas, sexual abuse, religious nightmares, and mental illness that causes anxiety, obsession and compulsion and sometimes depression.

All of this conditioning was handed down generation by generation.
Until it got to me. I was the faded copy of a copy that was hardly recognizable anymore.
All of these experiences that created this way of thinking was not mine, but given to me by
my parents who got it from their parents and so on and so on......
I did not personally have any of these experiences at all, I just had the by product information
that was passed onto me.
I was so faded, I either had to change and have my own experiences or fade away.

I began my own experience in life 16 years ago and I continue today.
My beliefs are my beliefs and they change constantly based on my own personal experience.
The truth is what I seek, but it is hidden many times by years and lifetimes of untruth.
Just when I think I know it all, I am reminded I do not know anything.
I must always be ready to change everything. Tradition is overrated and not based in reality.
It is not what it used to be, it is what it is today, and the world changes around me constantly.

I learned that my bad behavior that continued to show up over the years was tied to a cycle that
I was repeating over and over and expecting a different result.
Once painful enough, I began the steps over again and worked on the behavior to change yet again.

Everything in this life is a cycle.
We do not move forward until a cycle is broken.
Most often we are not aware that the cycle is of our own doing, we blame others.
But the only fault I am responsible for is my own, I always play a role and my role
will need to change if change is the desired outcome.

Nothing changes if nothing changes.
Change is painful and heartbreaking, but necessary.
We can do it the hard way or the easier, softer way.

Let's pray for change today.
Why do we continue to repeat these painful cycles in our own lives and in the life
of our communities and our world around us?
What role do I play and what can I do to change.
When I accept my role, I begin to give myself a break......
when I give myself a break, I give everyone a break.

The only reason something continues to happen over and over again
is because something has not changed.

Peace, Love, Zito